Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle

On Blu-Ray: 
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Running Time: 
1 Hour, 59 Minutes

Howl’s Moving Castle? By the time I had gotten into Miyazaki’s films this film was probably my least favorite. In all honesty it probably had more to do with the casting. At the time Christian Bale was huge with his filmic version of American Psycho, Billy Crystal had been limping along starring in bomb after bomb, and Emily Mortimer was pretty much Bruce Willis’ love interest in the Disney film The Kid. Josh Hutcherson hadn’t become a household name at the time so he didn’t factor in. As a film lover and as a parent these casting choices made no sense to me, especially because I had considered, and still do consider, Miyazaki’s films to be legendary.

Today I watched Howl’s Castle for the second time in my life. My kids are a lot older now, I had completely forgotten what it was or what it was about, so this second viewing was like a second, but brand new, chance for me to get acquainted with the film. After having lived through the past decade or so I was able to see the film with a whole new perspective.

In Howl’s Moving Castle the world is at war, a world filled with witches, wizards, and everyday people who have no magical abilities. The king has beckoned all the magic folk to his aid as he attempts to defeat the neighboring kingdom, a kingdom that has lost its prince. The witches and wizards who come under the kings employ transform themselves into hideous flying beasts or gelatinous creatures that are bent on destroying anything that gets in their way.

In every sense Howl’s Moving Castle holds a political message about war, its unnecessary evil, and the things we become when we are beckoned to the call of war. The witches and wizards, soldiers for the king, must transform themselves into pure evil in order to do the King’s commands, but after a prolonged time as these beasts, the witches and wizards slowly but surely begin to lose themselves to their unnatural forms, losing the essence of what it was to be the person they were. That’s absolutely deep.

I recall when this movie first came out my kids were younger and I hated that this magical film had such dark and worldly undertones. I didn’t find them useful lessons for my children at the time. Now that they are in their teens and have seen our country at war, this is exactly the kind of amazing storytelling that I would want them to see. Now that they’re older we can conversate about the film and its reflections on our world.

The other side of the story involves a young woman named Sophie who has a curse placed on her by a witch that turns her from a young woman into an old hag. Sophie finds herself in the employ of Howl and must eventually find herself and possibly break her curse. As the story evolves we find Sophie becoming the person she was meant to be; strong, unafraid, and an individual whose embraces her own destiny. Sure, we’ve seen it before, but Howl’s Moving Castle places that story without a whole original concept that is a pleasure to watch.

Absolutely amazing. Mind you, there are a couple of scenes where Howl’s Castle is on the move and we see some slight aliasing, but overall the picture is lifelike. Color is amazingly potent from the extremely green grass to the high detailed outlay of every town we find our unlikely group of characters in. There are scenes in the film that I swear look so life like you forget you’re watching an animated feature film. The detail of Howl’s castle is so immaculate I’m hard pressed to find another animated feature that looked as amazing as this one. It’s Disney so I expected no less, but I am glad Disney/Pixar took Ghibli under its collective wing and was able to bring us these amazing films and give them this royal treatment. Simply amazing.

~BD/DVD Versions
~Original Japanese Storyboards
~Original Japanese TV Spots and Trailers
~Behind The Microphone: I can’t believe how tiny Josh Hutcherson is in this feature. Christain Bale looks about the same. Watch them offering up their lines in the voice over studio.
~Interview with Pixar Animations Studio Director Pete Docter.
~Hello Mr.s Lasseter: Hayao Miyzaki visits Pixar Studios